This isn't the way the Mac maker had hoped to kick off the year. Following a media blitz of hype for the iPhone 4S launch in China, it looks as though Apple might conclude the week on a, well, weaker note. During the iPhone maker's ongoing and never-ending patent dispute with some of the world's largest smartphone manufacturers – including Samsung and HTC – Apple got into a scuffle with Elan Microelectronics Corp, a touch design company that's based in Taiwan. According to Reuters, Elan announced this morning that Apple will pay $5 million to settle a patent infringement case. This might sound like an insignificant victory (and a worriless payout for Apple, which has billions of dollars in cash reserves), but Elan's success is a painful reminder that the iPod creator isn't guaranteed to win these courtroom battles. Actually, Reuters reports that Apple did win this battle – the U.S. International Trade Commission apparently ruled in favor of Apple because it had not violated U.S. trade law. And yet Apple is still forking over a bucket of cash.